Krabi is famous for it’s coastline and karst islands, however there is plenty to do inland too. One of the local attractions is Wat Tham Seua or Tiger cave temple, which draws visitors for it’s stunning views. Perched on the very top of a steep mountain, it’s a serious climb to get to the top – but then everything that is worth doing requires a little extra effort, right?
This temple was founded mid 70’s by a monk who meditated in a cave at this site. It is said he was in a cave when a tiger came in, but didn’t harm him, so the temple was founded on this spot. You can allegedly see the footprints of the tiger in the cave, but for most visitors, us included, it’s the views that impressive the most!
The staircase to climb the mountain has 1237 steps, some of which are nearly a foot high. This trek is for the (relatively) fit only. And those not afraid of heights. It’s best to go when it’s cool, in the early morning or late afternoon, and with plenty of water. You catch your breath at the top when you pause to take your shoes, only for it to be taken away again by the view. 360 degree views of Krabi and the Andaman sea stretch away before you, and it’s not hard to see why this place is sacred. (
A little further into the temple grounds you find a huge Chinese pagoda housing an equally huge statue of the goddess Kuan Im (a Chinese goddess of mercy). Here there’s a shorter staircase which takes you to a rainforest valley with cave complexes. The trees here are ancient, and archaeological finds here date Krabi as the oldest known settlement in Thailand. Monks still use the caves for meditation as well as living quarters. We didn’t actually make it into the gardens, firstly because our return taxi was collecting us soon (we thought 3 hrs would be enough, apparently not) and secondly my legs really couldn’t face another staircase! Consider doing this part before the big climb….
There are monkeys throughout the temple grounds and you can buy monkey food (chopped up bananas) to feed them. Be wary of bags, water bottles and any food you have on you, as they are used to humans and may grab something if they want it! Here’s a cheeky youngster stuffing as much as he could into his pouches before the rest of the troupe arrived.
Wat Tham Suea is just 3km outside Krabi town, and you can catch the local bus from town or charter a taxi to take you there. If you take the local bus be aware that the stop is on the road, about a 20 min walk from the temple (probably fine on the way in, but maybe not after climbing a mountain). We hired a taxi from the hotel and arranged a return pick up for later costing 500b each way. I would recommend a minimum of 4-5 hours at the temple to allow time to trek up the mountain and down again, with time at the top and time to see the caves and gardens. Remember you are in a temple, and despite the heat and the climb, you should dress modestly at all times – see the guide to temple etiquette for more info.